Just Friends (2005)

Rating: B-

Dir: Roger Kumble
Star: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein

This was critically maligned, but I actually enjoyed it; the people here seemed more “real” than usually turn up in Hollywood. Which is odd, because you’re talking about obnoxious pop star Sam (Faris) and her minder Chris (Reynolds), who end up dumped in New Jersey for the festive season. Where, of course, his old-flame Jamie (Smart) still resides, and Chris wants to get payback for a humiliating incident at their graduation party, back when he was fat and “best friends forever” with Jamie. But another geek from the era, Dusty (Klein), also has designs on his former crush.

Now, it’s obvious exactly where this is going, and there are absolutely no surprises in the destination. However, it’s the minor stuff which makes this a pleasant diversion, such as Chris’s relationship with brother Mike, which features the kind of casual sadism only ever experienced by those of us with older brothers (or tomboyish older sisters). Sam is another element of note; she encapsulates all the hideous mannerisms – and lack of actual talent – owned by those “pop stars” we know and loathe: Christina, Britney, Jessica and their skanky friends. It’s ludicrous, hammy and entirely appropriate, though it is stretching credibility to believe she’d be abandoned in New Jersey for an entire week rather than, say, whisked off to a five-star suite in New York.

However, this is the kind of film which is intended to evoke warm, fuzzy feelings rather than withstand logical analysis, and it does just that, while being, for the most, amusing enough. Reynolds could certainly be accused of being a one-note actor, but the sarcasm he doles out is both refreshing in irony-free Hollywood, and entirely appropriate to his role. Not great cinema, I’ll freely admit, yet as date movies go, it’s remarkably painless.